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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome | So Much More Than a Case of the Tireds

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

“Dang, I’m cashed. But it’s more than that. I mean, I’m thinking major depressive disorder, stress overload, fibromyalgia – hey, I really don’t know what I think anymore. Bottom-line: I just don’t understand what’s going on, and I’m upset. Help?!”

I posted an article on chronic fatigue syndrome here on Chipur three years ago. Since that time, it’s become an issue for several of my clients, and more has been learned about it. Sooo, I’d like to revisit the topic. What you’re gonna’ get is a dust-up of the original piece, followed by a link to the latest info from the University of Maryland Medical Center. Tons of vital information you won’t want to miss.

Let’s roll (up our sleeves)…

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome | All-Abouts

Should you suspect you have CFS, get to a physician as soon as possible. If you, indeed, have it your chances of managing it well, or remission, are greater. If it isn’t CFS, early diagnosis and treatment are equally as important.

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a mysterious load of misery. It’s characterized by extreme fatigue that’s often exacerbated by physical, emotional, and mental activity. And the problem is – it doesn’t resolve with rest.

Symptoms of CFS may peak and stabilize early in its presentation – then come and go over time. Complete recovery is a possibility; however, many sufferers get progressively worse.

Should you suspect you have CFS, get to a physician as soon as possible. If you, indeed, have it your chances of managing it well, or remission, are greater. If it isn’t CFS, early diagnosis and treatment are equally as important.

“What does CFS look like?”

The signs and symptoms of CFS are all over the board, and there’s no detectable pattern. Here are its primary symptoms…

  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Mildly enlarged and painful lymph nodes in the neck and armpits
  • Muscle pain with no explanation
  • Pain that moves from one joint to another with no swelling or redness
  • Headache – a new type, severity, or pattern
  • Unrefreshing sleep
  • Over-the-top exhaustion lasting for more than 24 hours after physical, emotional, or mental exercise

Other common signs and symptoms…

Chest pain, diarrhea, abdominal pain, dizziness and balance issues, chronic cough, allergies or sensitivities to foods and other stimuli, bloating, shortness of breath, weight loss/gain, visual disturbances, morning stiffness, chills/night sweats, irregular heartbeat, depression, irritability, anxiety, panic, and more.

“Who’s more likely to get it?”

Sorry, ladies. Although gender isn’t a proven risk factor, the record shows you’re at least four times more likely to get CFS than us guys. But that may actually be a good thing – it may be because you’re more apt to report symptoms and seek treatment.

Though CFS can present at any age, it’s more likely to strike those in their 40s and 50s.

“What causes CFS, anyway?”

No one really knows. But here are a few ideas…

  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Impaired cellular metabolism
  • Depression
  • Viral infection
  • Immune system dysfunction
  • Hypoglycemia
  • An autoimmune process
  • History of allergies
  • Changes in levels of hormones generated by the activity of the HPA axis (I’m thinking especially cortisol)

“Is there a test?”

Unfortunately, there’s no test for CFS. And that means a diagnosis is grounded in signs, symptoms, and exclusion. So it’s all about rule-outs, and the biggies are…

Hypothyroidism, sleep apnea, depression, eating disorders, a relapse of a previously treated illness, substance use problems, and severe obesity (BMI: 40+).

“How is it treated?”

There’s no specific treatment for CFS. So that means physicians and counselors typically recommend a combination of strategies and techniques to manage symptoms. These may include…

  • Slow down! Learn to moderate physical, mental, and emotional stress
  • Counseling – especially cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to address stress management, depression, anxiety, and thought management
  • The gradual onset of an exercise program – if you already have one, adjustments may have to be made
  • Make sure those lifestyle habits are healthy
  • Treat the symptoms and associated disorders – depression, physical pain, sleep issues, allergy-like symptoms, hypotension, neurological issues (dizziness, balance issues, skin tenderness, etc.)
  • D-ribose supplements
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage, stretching, yoga, meditation, tai chi, breathing and relaxation exercises

The following experimental treatments for CFS are being studied…

  • Methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta, etc.): An amphetamine, which has shown promise in decreasing fatigue and improving concentration. It’s used to treat attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • Corticosteroids (hydrocortisone)
  • Immune globulins and interferons: Used to improve the immune system’s ability to fight infection.
  • Cholinesterase inhibitors: These drugs improve the effectiveness of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that is believed to be important for memory, thought, and judgment.
  • Be sure to tap the link below for more.

It’s a Wrap

So there you have it, a thumbnail on chronic fatigue syndrome – so much more than a case of the tireds. Just enough information to lend a hand in identifying a potential problem.

But we’re not finished yet. Here’s that link to the University of Maryland Medical Center I promised. Excellent and current material, well worth the read.

Tons more Chipur articles where this baby came from. Dig in, k?

  • Thanks for the information, Bill. I was not that familiar with all the details of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), but now I feel much more informed. I can imagine how frustrating that must be for a person. I’ve felt tired at different points in my life, but can usually sense what the problem is and rectify it. Thanks for the great information.

    • More than welcome, Cathy. It’s super-important to have info like this available on Chipur, as so many enduring mood and anxiety disorders suffer from such maladies, and may not know they’re identifiable and treatable situations. Glad to get the word out…

      Bill

  • Beth Wilson

    Hey Bill, good stuff, as always. I’ve had friends with CFS and watched them deal with the symptoms as well as the stigma that comes with it (all too often!). I really hate it that we humans are such judgers! Why does there have to be shame attached to so much in this life? Ugh!

    Thanks for always keeping it real and for sharing the good, the bad and the ugly.

    • Great film – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. And, yeah, tons of it all in our neck of the woods. Sad there’s so much of the bad and ugly of stigma and discrimination. CFS is no picnic and can severely disable, so we want to get word out to sufferers AND health care professionals.

      Always good having you here, Beth. Hope you’ll continue to visit and participate…

      Bill

  • Kyczy

    This is a really complete descriptions of the signs and symptoms. I have heard people explain they have it or fear having it and I never really understood the pervasive nature of the syndrome. My compassion goes to those who suffer. Good life suggestions for everyone; regardless of having CFS or not. Self care is hugely important, and something we practice to practice.

    • Pervasive to be sure, Kyczy. And folks enduring CFS merit compassion, as the suffering is super-tough. I’ll tell you what else is tough – reporting physical symptoms to your physician and not having them taken seriously. And that all too often happens to folks suffering from CFS, fibromyalgia, and other legit conditions not fully accepted by medical “experts.”

      I appreciate your visits and contributions, Kyczy. Please come back…

      Bill

  • Great information, Bill. I remember when the Dx first emerged and it was thought to be a kind of catch-all, throw away thing as people continued to suffer mightily.

    I appreciate and concur with your advice to look into what may be deficient and/or toxic in one’s system encompassing a “dental to mental” approach. Sometimes removing the exact or combination of critical “lynch pins” of interference to robust health is the last thing we look for…Hey, wait a sec…it’s always that way.

    Another valuable learning session from you, Bill. Thank you.

    • Glad you stopped-by, Herby. I would think you’ve seen a lot of CFS in your practice over the years. I’m encouraged that it’s being taken much more seriously these days – along with fibromyalgia, etc.

      Take good care of yourself, man, and come-on-back…

      Bill